On the eve of Thanksgiving here in the States, naturally I am thinking of gratitude. That said, gratitude is not just for Thanksgiving. Many people have a daily gratitude practice, either journaling what they are grateful for or taking time to reflect on gratitude. This practice is said to have numerous profound benefits, including making us happier, healthier, more spiritual and better sleepers. For a complete list, visit the Happier Human website.
That’s good news, but a few other things caught my attention on the subject recently, including a suggestion from an online astrologer–yes, an astrologer–“to give thanks for what once may have seemed to be a liability or problem.” Now that’s something to think about.
Elizabeth Briel, in A Book of Grace-Filled Days (2013), for November 23, writes:
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart – Psalm 9:2
Note how often the whole heart is referenced in Scripture. This implies that nothing is held back, that no part is hidden or kept to oneself. Are there parts of me I am trying to hide and control? Are there aspects of my life for which I resist God’s healing touch?
Could it be that the parts of ourselves that we most ignore or try to hide or control are the parts that most deserve our attention, gratitude and perhaps our forgiveness? That requires an openness, an invitation to grace. Grace is a mysterious gift, never unwelcome, often bestowed when we least expect it. It is not the nature of grace to always be direct or obvious; sometimes it is the opposite of what we think we know or what we expect or desire.
I am thankful for much, including and especially medical professionals and caregivers, and for the grace-filled people in every single service industry. But I am also grateful for the grace that has come my way in unexpected packages, for sorrows that I hope make space for deeper compassion and for a light that somehow refuses to be snuffed regardless of the weight of our world.